Hive Movie review – an impressive feature debut

By Louie Fecou
Published: April 4, 2022
film Hive 2021


Based on a true story in a post-war torn setting, Hive is an impressive debut for the writer-director, showing a dangerous situation and believable characters, struggling, and overcoming, against the odds.

This review of the film Hive does not contain spoilers. 

Blerta Basholli is the writer-director behind Hive, based on true events in Kosovo after the war of 1998 to 1999. We follow events through the eyes of Fahrije, whose husband is one of the thousands of men who have vanished during the conflict, and never been found. Strong and stoic, Fahrije is seen looking through body bags in the opening scene, hoping for closure. Played by Yilka Gashi, it is this central performance that guides the audience through the events of the film, a performance that helped earn the film an outstanding three awards at the Sundance Film Festival.

The film sees Farije, living with her son, daughter, and father-in-law, struggling to put food on the table and cope with the daily struggles of life in her small village. She uses the beehives usually tended by her husband to produce honey that they try to sell at a local market. This sparks an idea, and Fahrije expands the idea to produce jars of homemade ajvar, and sell it in a supermarket.

Turns out that ajvar is a condiment that is made from sweet bell peppers and eggplants. It is popular in Europe and often served as a side dish. What ajvar is was one of two pieces of information that I knew nothing about while watching this film. The second point I will mention later, and it’s much more important.

Fahrije manages to secure help to allow her to learn to drive, and sources ingredients to make the product, and then embarks on an uphill battle to get the other women of the town on board with her idea. However, her aspirations are looked down upon by many of her neighbors and villagers, and events start to escalate as she brings her plans to fruition. As well as hostility toward her project, Fahrije has to turn her back on the misogynistic traditions of the village and deal with the coming of age of her daughter. She is attacked physically and mentally as she struggles to find a way to survive, and build a future for her children.

This is basically an underdog story, and Basholli handles the job expertly, making sure we are on board with Fahrije, and never allowing us to forget the back story that motivates the characters.

If there is one downside to the overall production, it is perhaps the context which the movie is set in. The horror of the war in Kosovo that permeates the screenplay is vital to fully understanding it, and a title card at the end of the film gives the viewer context of this, but it’s information that might have been better placed at the start of the film. I imagine that as this film receives a worldwide release, many in the audience may not know of the situation in Kosovo.

This is however perhaps a failing on us as an audience, and as far as the film goes, this is certainly a well-presented production that deserves its awards and accolades. It is well-paced and has some nice directorial flourishes, and although it follows a well-worn narrative, it is held together by a great lead performance. If you are a fan of world film, and you are looking for something more substantial than the usual Hollywood fodder, look for Hive.

What did you think of the film Hive? Comment below.

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